Da­gen­ham & Red­bridge gaffer Wayne Bur­nett’s light-hearted rec­ol­lec­tions

The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By Matthew Bad­cock

HE scored Grimsby’s Golden Goal at Wem­b­ley in the Auto Wind­screens Shield be­fore go­ing back to the fa­mous twin tow­ers three months later to help the Mariners to Di­vi­sion Two pro­mo­tion.

Wayne Bur­nett’s ca­reer took him to all four cor­ners of the coun­try. Start­ing out at Ley­ton Ori­ent, he also took in Black­burn Rovers, Ply­mouth Ar­gyle and Hud­der­s­field.

He fin­ished his play­ing days in Non-League foot­ball be­fore step­ping into the dug-out at Fisher Ath­letic, Dulwich Ham­let and Grays be­fore tak­ing the reins at League Two Da­gen­ham & Red­bridge.

The 43-year-old was even an ex­tra on cult TV show Dream Team and could of­ten be seen in the fa­mous Harch­ester United pur­ple.


Ley­ton Ori­ent. It was a nice club. I joined when I was 16. At the time there were no re­stric­tions and you could go and play at Charl­ton, Mill­wall, Spurs – there were no con­tracts and you could train with who­ever you wanted.

I was at QPR with Pat Hol­land, who used to play for West Ham, and he took me to Ori­ent. He’s a good guy Patsy, he went on to be­come first team manager, so I’ve got a lot of time for him and I still speak to him now.

It was slightly dif­fer­ent back then. You had to sweep chang­ing rooms, clean boots, clean cars, go and get striped paint and glass ham­mers! It was a good ground­ing.


I’ve been for­tu­nate to play un­der some ex­cel­lent man­agers. I had some good times un­der Alan Buck­ley when Grimsby were in the Cham­pi­onship. Play­ing un­der Kenny Dal­glish at Black­burn was fan­tas­tic, I en­joyed my time un­der Len­nie Lawrence and I’ve worked un­der Peter Shilton.

I learnt a lot from all of them and I take a lit­tle bit from all of them into my man­age­ment now. I worked un­der John Still, a very good friend, who I ad­mire and re­spect im­mensely. He’s some­one else I learnt a great deal off.

From a coach­ing point of view I also learnt a lot from a guy called Jim Hicks. He’s had a big im­pact on my coach­ing.


I don’t want to do a dis­ser­vice to any­one. I played with so many good play­ers it’s so dif­fi­cult to say. Any­one who passed me the ball to my feet and didn’t make me run! But se­ri­ously, any­one for­tu­nate enough to be a pro­fes­sional foot­ball was good enough. I wouldn’t want to say one player in par­tic­u­lar be­cause I’ll have peo­ple on the phone. Maybe I’ll just go with Fletcher from Harch­ester United!


Grimsby into what is now the Cham­pi­onship in 1998 via the play­offs. We’d been to Wem­b­ley three months ear­lier in the Auto Wind­screens against Bournemouth. I man­aged to score the golden goal. Even though it was a dream to score, the play-off game meant even more.

That ex­pe­ri­ence did help when it came to the play-off fi­nal. It’s a pres­sure game, your sea­son boils down to the last game. We had a few drinks for a few days af­ter that. Af­ter the first game at Wem­b­ley we were away at Carlisle 48 hours later. We won the game, but we couldn’t cel­e­brate. Af­ter pro­mo­tion we had a three-day ben­der!


Lee Ashcroft. He was a funny guy. He was a bit of a nut re­ally. He was al­ways play­ing prac­ti­cal jokes and crack­ing a joke. He’d al­ways be try­ing to cut your socks up or your jeans in half. He was al­ways up to some­thing and it would drive you mad. Ai­dan David­son, the goal­keeper, was a bit nuts, too.


This wasn’t from when I was play­ing but from Da­gen­ham when John Still and Terry Har­ris were here.

We had a young player on trial for two or three weeks.We sat down and John said, ‘Let’s get him in and see if we can of­fer him a deal’. Terry had the job of call­ing this kid up. He spoke to him and said, ‘Come in Mon­day morn­ing, be there at 9am’.

So we’re sit­ting there and this kid turns up with three or four of his friends. We recog­nised the young man, we didn’t know who he was but we ac­knowl­edged each other and he sat down at the ta­ble in our train­ing ground. Af­ter about ten min­utes we re­alised the kid Terry had rung had the same name as the kid we were go­ing to of­fer a con­tract – Femi! We had two Femis on trial and Terry had called the wrong one up. The poor kid turned up with his brother and his agent ready to sign a deal. You’ve got to sup­port your col­leagues so we left it to Terry to sort it out while me and John left! Terry never lived it down.


Get­ting pro­moted with Grimsby was the best feel­ing. Scor­ing at Wem­b­ley will live with me for­ever but ac­tu­ally win­ning pro­mo­tion was the re­sult of a lot of peo­ple work­ing very, very hard.

There are peo­ple who have had far big­ger and more il­lus­tri­ous ca­reers who didn’t get pro­moted or play at Wem­b­ley so I feel very lucky and hon­oured to have done both.

As a manager, it has to be Da­gen­ham & Red­bridge fin­ish­ing ninth in League Two last sea­son. It was an in­cred­i­ble achieve­ment and we re­ally are very proud of that.

And I was in Dream Team on Sky One! I’d stopped play­ing and my good friend Andy An­sah got me along. I tell ev­ery­one I was the star – I was an ex­tra re­ally! It was a load of guys get­ting to­gether and do­ing some film­ing. It was fun, but pro­mo­tion was the best.


Get­ting in­jured at Grimsby. I was out for about 18 months. I was 28 and I had groin prob­lems. To­wards the back end of our Wem­b­ley sea­son I was hav­ing painkilling in­jec­tions and I prob­a­bly had one or two too many. I had an op­er­a­tion at the end of the sea­son. I kept com­ing back and break­ing down. Be­ing in­jured for any player is a low point.


Sun­der­land’s old Roker Park wasn’t a nice place to go. I al­ways used to get beat at Brent­ford, I just never had a good time there. And any­where that was far away.


When I was start­ing out I played against Micky Haz­ard. He ab­so­lutely de­stroyed me. He was a won­der­ful player.

Ruud Gul­lit was a great player to play against, too. Both were just head and shoul­ders above ev­ery­one else. I’ve played against Glenn Hod­dle as well. He was an idol of mine and a ge­nius.


Wem­b­ley! No, I’m jok­ing. But I was for­tu­nate to go to some great places. I en­joyed go­ing to Sh­effield Wed­nes­day, Sh­effield United, Not­ting­ham For­est – all good clubs you want to play at. I played at An­field, which was a great ex­pe­ri­ence, and the old High­bury, which was nice.


Like most man­agers, I’d like to man­age at the high­est level pos­si­ble. I’m fiercely am­bi­tious and I’d like to take Da­gen­ham as far as I can.

I’ve had a good ground­ing and I know how the lower ech­e­lons work. Who knows where it can take you? It’s nice to see young Bri­tish man­agers de­vel­op­ing and pro­gress­ing. Look at Ed­die Howe at Bournemouth, Keith Hill at Rochdale, the likes of Micky Mel­lon at Shrews­bury, Gary Rowett’s gone to Birm­ing­ham. We un­der­es­ti­mate how good some of our man­agers and coaches are.

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Images

GLORY DAY: Grimsby’s Wayne Bur­nett wins a header against Bournemouth’s Steve Fletcher in the Auto Wind­screens Shield Fi­nal in 1998

Spe­cial mo­ment: Golden Goal at Wem­b­ley Spe­cial achieve­ment:

glory Auto Wind­screens

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